“How would you rate wines from Lidl?” is a question I am asked more frequently of Lidl than any other store. In the last 10 years Lidl’s cheap wines have been a massive influence in buying wine in Ireland. Finding the cheapest gluggable wine has become a national pastime and conversation piece.
After a wine tasting of Lidl’s range, my conclusion is that Lidl have a very good understanding of the wine drinking market. 3 out of 4 wine buyers are looking for a fruity-tasting alcoholic beverage to quaff at home at the lowest possible price. Market research confirms that after wine colour, price is the second most important factor in buying wine. A well-known name such as Bordeaux or Rioja, will often vindicate purchase of cheap wine.
25% of wine purchases are where people are looking for wine as a treat, or for a special occasion. Discerning wine drinkers are looking for wines which offer balance, good fruit flavour, typicity of style, and length, with price less important. Thanks to Richard Bampfield, Lidl’s Master of Wine consultant, these wines are also available at Lidl. While I didn’t find any stellar wines on this occasion, I did find value for everyday drinking, and some surprises too. Here are my top recommendations.
Lidl’s best white wines, for quality/value, pretty much in descending order:
- Cimarossa Chilean Sauvignon Blanc 2011, €5.29 **value
- Viajero Chilean Sauvignon Blanc Winemaker’s Selection 2009, €7.99
- Cimarossa Pedro Jimenez 2010, €4.99 ** value
- Cimarossa New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc €8.29
- Chablis 1er Cru, 2009, €13.99
- Bourgogne Aligoté 2009, €8.49
- Chablis 2010, €8.99
- Pouilly Fumé 2010, €9.99
- Pouilly Fuissé 2009, €10.99
- Alsace Pinot Gris 2011, around €7 (available soon)
- Sancerre 2010, €10.99
For the budget conscious, the best white wines under €5.50 are:
- Cimarossa Pedro Jimenez 2010, €4.99
- Cimarossa Chilean Sauvignon Blanc 2011, €5.29
- Cimarosa Australian Chardonnay 2011, €5.49
- Cimarosa South African Chardonnay/Chenin 2011, €4.99
Lidl’s top red wines, based on quality/value:
- Cimarosa Australian Shiraz/Cabernet 2010 €4.99 **value
- Chianti Riserva 2008, €6.99
- Cepa Lebrel Rioja Reserva 2005, €7.99
- Cepa Lebrel Rioja Joven 2010, €5.19 **value
- Côtes du Rhône Villages 2011 €5.49 **value
- Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010, €3.99
- Tarragona DO Reserva 2007, €5.79
- Cimarossa South African Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, €5.29 **value
- Cimarosa South African Pinotage 2011, €4.99 **value
Lidl’s best reds under €5.50:
- Cimarosa Australian Shiraz/Cabernet 2010, €4.99
- Côtes du Rhône Villages 2011 €5.49
- Cepa Lebrel Rioja Joven 2010, €5.19
- Cimarosa South African Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, €5.29
- Cimarosa South African Pinotage 2011, €4.99
- Cimarosa South African Shiraz/Cabernet 2010, €5.29
If you are looking for cheap sparkling wine, try the Prosecco Frizzante at €6.99.
While these are recommendations, recognising your personal preferences is key to enjoyment of wine. The Bourgogne Aligoté is well-made, but not to everyone’s taste. A wine tasting course, such as Premier Wine Training’s one day wine tasting course is a good platform to learn.
Bear in mind that quality will vary with vintage changes. Lidl’s own brand, Cimarosa, allows the consultant flexibility in sourcing the best possible wine each year, so he will choose the best ‘fill’ at the price point.